Friday, June 14, 2013

Zombie in my Pocket

Zombie in my Pocket is actually two different games.  First, there was this game, a free "print-n-play" title distributed over the internet.  This version of the game was a solitaire game, where one player plays against the system.  It was called 'Zombie in my Pocket' because the idea was that the components would be small and you could literally place all of the game components in your pocket, a small tin, etc.  I have never played that game.  The game that I have is this one, published by Cambridge Games Factory.  It is supposed to be basically the same thing, but the rules have been modified to allow up to 8 people to play the game at the same time.  That is interesting, because while everyone is on the same team, playing against the board, it is entirely possible for some of the players to lose, while others win.

The setup is that all of the players are stuck at a house somewhere, and the zombies are coming.  it is 9PM, and if it gets to midnight without them having found the evil idol and purged it with the right ritual then the world is overcome with evil zombies and everyone loses.  On each player's turn, they become the "leader" of the pack, and moves around the house.  Everyone is always in the same place, but the decision on where to go next rotates around the board.  On your turn you can either stay where you are and gain health (but you burn a card from the deck), you move to an adjacent tile and then draw an event card (which usually, but not always, means zombies show up), or you can do the special action of the room you are in (if there is one to perform).

The game board is made up of a series of tiles.  At the beginning there is just one tile, and you have to explore to find other tiles.  This is important because you have to find the evil idol, get outside, and then find the graveyard to win the game.  When you do explore, you turn over an event card.  This is important because the event deck (which isn't very big) is the game timer.  Once you go through it three times you lose.  Moving around the board uses cards, but so does staying where you are, so it is a race and every turn the player in charge has to decide what is best to do.

Fighting zombies is actually pretty clever.  Everyone has two decisions card that say FIGHT or FLEE.  When zombies show up, each player decides on their own whether to fight or flee.  If everyone in the group decides to flee, then everyone loses a health point and you have to vacate the room.  If anyone fights, all of the players who fled gain a health point.  Those who fight total up their combat scores against the number of zombies (which increases the more players you have), and if the players equal or beat the zombie total they win, otherwise the difference has to be taken as health point loss by the fighters.  It is even possible that all of the fighters die, but as long as somebody fled the game continues.  This is how you can end up with some losers in the game, even though everyone is supposedly on the same team.

And that is the real meat of the game, the decisions.  Do we move to a new tile, or stay where we are?  Do we fight, or do we flee?  Maybe one person is really injured and they can flee while the others fight, but don't trust your friends too much, or you might find you are facing a horde of zombies by yourself while your friends laugh at you.  Trust me, this is the voice of bitter experience, your friends will stab you in the back just to laugh at you in this game.  Or, at least, my friends will.

So why do I have this game in my collection?  I picked it up last year on a lark when I saw it in my local game store.  I don't care for a lot of the art, and I don't find it to be that good of a solitaire game, but it can be fun with the right crowd, and I don't have many games that play fast and work with up to eight players, so it has its uses.

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